Slow Cooker Red Lentil Dal Recipe

daal with brown rice

It’s no secret among people who know me that my very favorite cuisine in the world is Indian, with Thai being a close second, and Mexican coming in third. I will always and forever love Indian food. I could pretty much eat it every day (I almost do in some form or another) and never tire of it. My dream is to one day travel to India and stay for a few weeks or months and really get acquainted with the culture and food. I’ve been experimenting with a slow cooker red lentil dal recipe for awhile now. It’s been fun to eat all of my experiments, but I think this time I got it!

When I first moved to New York as a single 20-year-old, I ate as much Indian food as I could. I had eaten homemade chicken curry made by a friend’s mom. Her mother was of Indian descent by way of Mauritius. I think that’s when I really started to fall for Indian food. Other than her chicken curries and a few other recipes here and there, I didn’t really eat much Indian food. My family didn’t love it or make it at home. There weren’t very many restaurants where I lived. So it took moving to the East Coast where I stood in front of my first Indian lunch buffet, and fell completely in love with dal (also spelled daal or dhal). As much as I love all kinds of Indian food, dal is my most favorite. I think lentils might just be my very favorite food of all. It’s a tie with coconut. :)

It’s my comfort food. It’s easy for me to make it at home, though it’s not quite as good as eating at my favorite Indian restaurant or having it prepared by someone who really knows what they’re doing. (I think I’m almost there.) I just love it. The warm spices, the steamy rice. It’s filling and healthy, and I can’t stop myself from having seconds.

red lentils yellow split peas

This recipe calls for a mix of red lentils, split yellow peas, and split mung beans. You can use all of one or a mix. It doesn’t really matter. You could also switch it up with other kinds of lentils and gram. I love the mix of seeds I’ve used to flavor it this time. It’s pretty mild, but still really flavorful. We add the red chile flakes to our individual bowls so it’s not too spicy for our kids. The fennel adds a great flavor without being too overpowering. There’s plenty of turmeric (my new favorite spice) and fresh ginger too. It’s just a good mix of spices that tastes great.

dal with brown rice

You can eat it plain or with rice, or naan. We eat it all different ways, but my favorite is with brown rice. It’s also really good with quinoa.

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Dal Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A hearty, comforting slow cooked dal made from red lentils, split yellow peas, and Indian spices.
Author:
Recipe type: Main, Side, Vegetarian, Vegan
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • 3 cups red lentils, yellow split peas, or split mung beans (or a combination)
  • 6 cups water
  • One 28 ounce diced tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon turmeric
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons each: cumin seeds, mustard seeds, onion seeds, fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For serving:
  • Hot cooked brown rice
  • cilantro, optional
  • extra onion and cumin seeds, optional
  • fresh lemon juice, optional
Instructions
  1. Place red lentils and yellow split peas into a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak for a few minutes and swish to wash the lentils and split peas. Drain well and rinse. Place in a slow cooker and add the 6 cups water. Add the diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cardamom pods, bay leaf, salt and black pepper.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add all of the seeds to the pan. Shake the pan while on the heat, or use a wooden spoon to stir, while toasting the seeds. When they smell fragrant, remove from heat and transfer to the slow cooker. (It will probably bubble up a bit as the hot seed hit the liquid.) Stir well to combine all ingredients. Place lid on slow cooker and let cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
  3. Remove lid after cooking time and stir. Taste and if lentils are not soft, cook for another 30-60 minutes, if needed. Add more salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. To serve - Ladle the daal over brown rice and top with a squeeze of fresh lemon, cilantro, and more seeds, if desired.

 

Check out these other Indian recipes we love:
Potato Chickpea Masala
Vegan Banana Squash Coconut Curry
Vijay’s Channa Masala
Butter Balti Chicken

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9 Responses to “Slow Cooker Red Lentil Dal Recipe”

  1. blessthismessplease February 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    Oh wow. Why aren’t we neighbors?! I bet this is PHENOMENAL the next day for lunch.

    • Lindsey Johnson February 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

      I wish we were neighbors for many reasons, Melissa! Do you think it would ship well? ;)

  2. KalynsKitchen February 25, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Yaay, I can actually get to your website and even leave a comment.

    This recipe looks amazing!

    • Lindsey Johnson February 25, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

      If that was the only good thing about moving over to WP, it will have been worth it. :) Thanks for coming over, Kalyn!

  3. Becki February 27, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Looks like my kind of meal! I know this is a beginner question, but where do you buy cardamom pods in Provo (since the indian store is gone)? I haven’t found them.

  4. Angie March 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    I love this website!! I made this recipe pretty much as written and later added quite a few more spices to suit our tastes. If I were to make it again I would also use chicken or vegetable broth for a little more flavor. Thanks for the recipes!

    • Lindsey Johnson March 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

      Thanks, Angie! Glad you enjoyed it. Your adaptations sound wonderful!

  5. Alex July 23, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    One of our chefs made a recipe similar to this for our staff the other day. Think I’m going to give this recipe a try.

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